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Where the Heart Is Hardcover – Large Print, Nov 1995

4.3 out of 5 stars 1,204 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 413 pages
  • Publisher: G K Hall & Co; Lrg edition (November 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 078381478X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0783814780
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 16.5 x 24.8 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 726 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 1,204 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #3,940,069 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Amazon

Oprah Book Club® Selection, December 1998: A funny thing happens to Novalee Nation on her way to Bakersfield, California. Her ne'er-do-well boyfriend, Willie Jack Pickens, abandons her in an Oklahoma Wal-Mart and takes off on his own, leaving her with just 10 dollars and the clothes on her back. Not that hard luck is anything new to Novalee, who is "seventeen, seven months pregnant, thirty-seven pounds overweight--and superstitious about sevens.... For most people, sevens were lucky. But not for her," Billie Letts writes. "She'd had a bad history with them, starting with her seventh birthday, the day Momma Nell ran away with a baseball umpire named Fred..."

Still, finding herself alone and penniless in Sequoyah, Oklahoma is enough to make even someone as inured to ill fortune as Novalee want to give up and die. Fortunately, the Wal-Mart parking lot is the Sequoyah equivalent of a town square, and within hours Novalee has met three people who will change her life: Sister Thelma Husband, a kindly eccentric; Benny Goodluck, a young Native American boy; and Moses Whitecotton, an elderly African American photographer. For the next two months, Novalee surreptitiously makes her home in the Wal-Mart, sleeping there at night, exploring the town by day. When she goes into labor and delivers her baby there, however, Novalee learns that sometimes it's not so bad to depend on the kindness of strangers--especially if one of them happens to be Sam Walton, the superchain's founder.

Where the Heart Is oddly mixes heart-warming vignettes and surprising, brutal violence. Novalee's story is juxtaposed with occasional chapters chronicling Willy Jack's downward spiral into prison, disappointment, and degradation. And even in Sequoyah, sudden storms, domestic violence, kidnapping, and deadly fires punctuate Novalee's progress from homeless, unwed teen mom to successful, happy member of the community. This is not a subtle book; there's never any doubt that our heroine will make a home for herself and her baby or that Willy Jack will get what he deserves for abandoning them. Still, Billie Letts has created several memorable characters, and there's always room for another novel that celebrates the life-affirming qualities of reading, the importance of education, and the power of love to change lives. --Alix Wilber --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Readers immersed in the offbeat world of Letts's lively, affecting first novel will forgive its occasional forced quirkiness. For 17-year-old Novalee Nation, seven months pregnant, the phrase "home is where your history begins" has a special meaning. Leaving behind a trail of foster homes in Tennessee trailer parks to live in a real house with her boyfriend, Willy Jack Pickens, Novalee instead finds herself abandoned in front of a Wal-Mart in Sequoyah, Okla. With nowhere to turn, she cleverly conceals herself within the store, keeping careful accounts until giving birth to the "Wal-Mart baby" turns her into a local celebrity. Happily, the community reaches out to Novalee and baby Americus. Sequoyah's one-woman welcoming committee, Sister Husband, takes them in; cultured librarian Forney Hull takes a shine to them; photographer Moses Whitecotton encourages Novalee's raw talent for photography by teaching her all he knows; Lexie Coop, who has a huge appetite for food, diet fads and the wrong men, befriends her; and legendary Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton gives her a job. Meanwhile, Willy Jack, an aspiring musician, gets a shot at the big time before hitting bottom and realizing what he's left behind. Letts's wacky characters are depicted with humor and hope, as well as an earnestness that rises above the story's uneven conceits, resulting in a heartfelt and gratifying read. Film rights sold to 20th Century Fox.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
In Billie Letts' novel "Where the Heart Is," she creates a loving and heartwarming story about a young woman trying to establish herself as a positive role model for her daughter and keep up with the fast paced changes life throws in her direction. The novel follows Novalee Nation, a young woman of 17 who gives birth to a baby girl in the most unlikely place: a Wal-Mart store. Knowing no one in the small town of Sequoyah, Oklahoma where she was abandoned by her boyfriend, she is forced to find friends and support from a whole host of characters. There's Sister Thelma Husband, who opens her home to Novalee and helps raise her daughter Americus. Forney, the librarian, who teaches Novalee some of the most important lessons about love and friendship. Lexie, the nurse who befriended Novalee in the hospital after Americus was born, who taught her important lessons about family, and that life can change in a single moment and not to take anything for granted. All of the characters are so well developed and they add something unique to the story that makes it such a great read.
Billie Letts does an excellent job of placing the reader in Sequoyah, mostly because she has lived there before and knows the ways to make a reader feel as though they are experiencing the dry heat of Oklahoma and the tornado that whips through the town, leaving a huge impact on the life of Novalee. It was a very easy read, not a lot of overwhelming detail. Just enough to evoke an image in your mind of the characters and the setting, and to get a solid understanding of the feelings and emotions of the characters.
I really loved the bond between Novalee and Americus, and how the emphasis on family was so important.
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Format: Paperback
A girl who finds herself pregnant and abandoned in a Wal-Mart, in the novel Where The Heart Is. At the age of seventeen, Novalee is left to survive on her own with just $7.77 when her boyfriend, Willy Jack Pickens, abandons her at a Wal-Mart in the small town of Sequoyah, Oklahoma. Throughout Novalee's stay at the Wal-Mart Letts develops a variety of unique and considerate people with whom Novalee has encounters. Letts shows how Novalee learns many lessons from all of the people who she meets, and that learning is a life-long journey.

Letts introduces Novalee to many people who have a significant impact on her life, from the Bible pushing Sister Thelma Husband to the elderly photographer Moses Whitecotton. Where The Heart Is allows teenagers to see how life can be if they do not make the right decisions. Letts created a situation and confronts problems to which most teenagers can relate in this novel. Such as the awkward , and most times uncomfortable topic as the consequences of sex. Through Letts' realistic style of writing the reader feels as if they are taking each step that Novalee takes right beside her. Letts develops a plot that moves along at a perfect pace. The plot development is not so fast that you can not comprehend what is going on, but it always leaves you on the edge of your seat wanting to know what will happen next. In addition, Letts always has other characters in the novel facing problems which help to keep the reader interested. At the end of the novel I had only two negative criticisms. The first was that I found it unrealistic that Novalee could have lived in a Wal-Mart without ever being caught.

The other was that I was not necessarily interested in the life of Willy Jack Pickens, after he abandoned Novalee.
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Format: Paperback
I know that the unexpected can be surprisingly good, but that was not the case for this predictable, sappy, and disappointing novel. I don't read of Oprah's book choices reguarly, but she has made some sound selections: She's Come Undone, Song of Solomon, and Stones From the River. Those titles aren't "great contemperary literature", but they are a notch above the trashy paperback stuff that usually plagues the bestselling charts.
In this case, even that level of quality has dropped dramatically. Granted, the author does have a flare for creating atmosphere and setting a tone. But her characters are awfully flat, and I found most of them annoying and two-dimensional (especially Lexie, Benny Goodluck, and Forney).
I also find it insulting that critics would compare Letts's writing to the likes of Steinbeck, Kingsolver, Flagg, or Proulx. This book DOES NOT even come close to reaching the emotional intensity and involvement of those authors. Don't waste your time or money on this one.
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By A Customer on May 13 2001
Format: Paperback
In Billie Letts' novel Where the Heart Is the story will explore many different aspects of life. Letts style of writing is many different stories put together to make one novel. Any of these "stories" could have been set aside and made a book by itself. For example, Lexie and her kids, Forney taking care of his sister, Willy Jack, and many more. Wal-Mart is used as a symbol in the novel Where the Heart Is. Novalee was able to live in Wal-Mart and get everything she needed. Novalee was suited with the way her life was set. Although she got left there she was still able to make something out of her life. She did not give up on herself, she went out and read books and got to know people, Novalee also kept a record of what she "borrowed" from Wal-Mart so she could pay it back. After having her baby she was offered a job in any Wal-Mart, the owner paid her and told her not to worry about anything it was taken care of. Wal-Mart's symbolization helped the public because if someone can live in Wal-Mart then one can find anything there. Forney Hull is the librarian's brother. After his sister gets sick Forney takes care of her and runs the library. He meets Novalee and helps her find books she can read. After Novalee has her baby Forney falls in love with the little girl and baby-sits all the time. After Forney's sister gets sick he goes back to the city where his parents were buried and buries her there. After coming back he realizes that the Government has found a new librarian and he is out of a job. Forney decides that he does not need to live in the small town any more and he will venture off to find a new job. Ironically he finds himself coming back to the small town to be with Novalee and her daughter Americus. Another literary device is flash back.Read more ›
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